Originally published in my weekly column, Dish & Tell, at VEGAS SEVEN MAGAZINE.
The menu changes when “the mood strikes” the staff at The Kitchen at Atomic,where fine dining meets elevated bar food. And with a flash, now you can enjoy brunch. Chef Justin Kingsley Hall, formerly of Sparrow + Wolf, struts his own style, which is best described as refined rustic. He drew inspiration from the places where he’s lived and the people who have influenced him over the years, and you can explore with some seafaring starters, such as the classic shrimp cocktail with roasted pepper cocktail sauce or fresh oysters with blood orange mignonette and picked jalapeño. Move on to my personal favorite, the whole hot smoked trout with chives, lemon and toast—the chef’s twist on lox and bagels. The English pea hash on grilled toast, flavored with mint and lemon zest, is a refreshing pick-me-up at the start of the day. Another small plate is the urban seed salad, including green oak lettuce, roasted turnips, soy vinaigrette and goat cheese. For something heavier, the whisky bread pudding is a decadent standout, made with bourbon barrel syrup, fresh fruit and honey whipped cream. And try something savory and hearty with the Higuera St. breakfast burrito, stuffed with scrambled eggs, tri-tip, potatoes, salsa and sour cream. Why Higuera St., you might ask? Chef is from San Luis Obispo, California, and Higuera is a main street in this vibrant college town. If only this burrito had been available when I was a student. Another dish to try is the D.K. chicken fried steak. The initials stand for Chef Dan Krohmer of Other Mama, who requested Chef Justin put it on his menu multiple times, we hear. It’s chicken fried steak done right with eggs and gravy. As for cocktails, give Not Your Average Joe a try for a stout casked whisky with Ethiopian cold brew, anise, milk and coconut. 927 Fremont St., atomic.vegas/the-kitchen
Another locally driven spot is Cured & Whey, tucked inside a business park on Valley View Boulevard. The gourmet shop and restaurant nurtures a revolving-door culture within our city’s amazing culinary community. Owner Michael Stamm gives people access to the same incredible products top chefs get from here daily. Its proximity to Michael Stamm’s MGP Specialty Food (Michael’s Gourmet Pantry) allows customers some extra privileges; for instance, if you want a particular cheese that isn’t in the cheese case, it’s solved with a short walk to the warehouse, where it can be cut to order in their fully licensed cheese cutting room. Cured & Whey also offers a full menu alongside a thoughtfully curated selection of specialty products. It’s also a place that holds tastings and classes. “Come as a friend, leave as family” is what they say. The Cheese & Charcuterie Boards is a special interactive experience, which allows you to have a hand in customizing, sharing and exploring the full range of cheeses and charcuterie they have to offer.
Sandwiches are a must-have, such as the Cuban panino, which is made with a slight adjustment. Cured & Whey uses porchetta ham, jambon de Paris, Swiss cheese, bread and butter pickles, Dijon and house-made Mojo sauce. It’s kissed with butter before hitting the grill. You can always count on Cured & Whey to pull from local companies, such as Urban Seed, Gilcrease Farms and local pastry chefs for the freshest ingredients and baked goods.
And stop in on Fridays at lunchtime for the Friday Family Meal, when a featured dish changes week to week. Past meals included everything from duck confit carnitas to sausage and peppers, and even lasagna. Stay for a while, chat with employee Rocksan Clark and learn something new. It’s a great meal to look forward to at week’s end, and this summer, stay tuned for their monthly guest chef series. 6265 S. Valley View Blvd., Suite K
There’s no better time than now to celebrate Las Vegas and its cocktail renaissance. After all, the cocktail culture scene has exploded in our town with cocktail bars continuing to appear both on and off the Strip. Meanwhile, the local chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild has grown to become the largest in the nation. It’s time to celebrate with a cause at For the Love of Cocktails. In its fifth year, the event brings together the nation’s leaders in spirits, mixology and libations on May 17 and 18. To kick off the weekend, culinary teams from a multitude of venues will prepare a five-course wine dinner held at Aureole at Mandalay Bay from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, where guests will enjoy an extravagant meal paired with rare, fine wines.
Then the annual Grand Gala will take place on Friday, May 18, at Skyfall Lounge and Rivea at Delano Las Vegas. Ticket sales from the event will be donated to the Helen David Relief Fund for Bartenders Affected by Breast Cancer. The nonprofit was founded by Las Vegas’ own father of mixology Tony Abou-Ganim, whose aunt fought and survived breast cancer. Founded by top spirits consulting and marketing firm Back Bar USA, For the Love of Cocktails is sponsored by MGM Resorts International and the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG). This year’s lead mixologists are Derek Crow from Libertine Social and Derick Baumgartner from Lago. Additional featured mixologists include Jair Bustillos from District One and Sarah Delgado-Rith from Rosina. It’s time to assemble, taste innovative libations and raise money for charity!
May 17, 7–10 p.m., Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars For the Love of Cocktails 5th Anniversary Dinner, $150, at Aureole inside Mandalay Bay; May 18, 7–11 p.m., Grand Gala, Skyfall Lounge inside Delano Las Vegas, $100–$159, fortheloveofcocktails.com